An open letter to cyclists in St Andrews

I have never considered myself a cyclist. I don’t spend my weekends fiddling with gears and grease, I’m not terribly keen on Lycra, and I don’t drink all of my coffee from a small, independent coffee shop. However, since being back in St Andrews I have been cycling to and from work. It’s a nice couple of miles or so to bookend my working day.

For two years I worked in central London. Each day I walked considerably further to work than I now cycle. Besides some pottering around Hyde Park, I would never have dared to cycle in London. Over the last couple of weeks, the capital has seen tragedy after tragedy. Sure, I swore at plenty of cyclists who jumped red lights on pedestrian crossings in Clerkenwell; but London is an incredibly dangerous place for cyclists.

It, therefore, makes me really quite angry when I cycle round St Andrews now. The town is a tiny fraction as busy as London and a much less dangerous place for cyclists. We do have our own hazards. With plenty of young students in town, there must be a high proportion of inexperienced drivers. As many of us know, there are also a very large number of elderly drivers, who usually move slowly and often erratically. And then there’s the St Andrews pedestrian – stepping out into the road without looking and often taking the longest route across it. But I am being irreverent. Relatively speaking, we live in a safe place.

That is why it makes me so annoyed that there are so many inconsiderate cyclists in this town. Over the past few weeks I have lost count of the number of cyclists that I have seen with no lights on. Often even those that do have lights have them hidden or they are too dull to see. There are cyclists who cycle the wrong way down one-way streets, around blind corners, up onto pavements and back into the traffic.

I don’t what to be self-righteous and I know that there are plenty of considerate cyclists around here. However, this is a tight-knit community that depends on goodwill between town and gown. Tragedies touch the whole place. I know that many cyclists are students with tight budgets, but lights don’t need to be pricey, a fluorescent band or waistcoat is a couple of quid, and there is no route in this town that is so long that you need to endanger yourself and others by riding the wrong way.

Please, be a considerate cyclist. For the drivers in town; for the other cyclists; but most of all, for you.

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One thought on “An open letter to cyclists in St Andrews

  1. I cycle everywhere in St Andrews. I had a car here but it just didn’t get used. You can walk everywhere within minutes. My experience is that most cyclists are fine, as are most drivers, but there have been a few times I’ve seen someone cycle the wrong way or without a helmet or lights. In other towns I’ve seen the police stop cyclists who are cycling at night without lights. But here, I’ve seen the police acknowledge and ignore cyclists without lights. Perhaps that’s part of the problem.

    At least the town is small enough that many potentially bad cyclists probably choose to walk instead. You don’t see too many cyclists. It’s not quite Oxford!

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